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Redefining Care podcast – first episode featuring NCF CEO Vic Rayner

It was my pleasure to be a guest on the inaugural episode of Redefining Care and talk about the leadership role that not-for-profit care providers are taking in understanding how technology can transform care, and the ways NCF have supported fundamental agendas around recognition of the workforce and ensuring that the journey towards greater integration recognises and values the strategic role of care providers. Anisa was a fantastic host, and I look forward to future opportunities to catch up on the ever changing world of care.  

We began by talking about the ever present ambition for meaningful integration between health and social care and what needs to change for this to create improved outcomes for patients and carers. This is a topic NCF have centred on, producing a wide range of tools and resources available for the whole sector, and hosting a roundtable event in partnership with the Health Service Journal, bringing together system leaders from across health and care to coincide with the first anniversary of Integrated Care Systems. As a result The Nuffield Trust produced a long read recommending more streamlined working and communications between health and social care. The integration of workforces and the beneficial effect this could have on wider strategic planning and joint learning was a valuable thread explored. 

Racing on (there was a lot to talk about!) we pivoted into how shared care records could deliver an improved experience for those receiving care and delivering it.  Advancements in the use of technology in social care is of course a hot topic. I have a great personal interest in this agenda, alongside being steeped in the policy perspective of this through my role as Chair of the government’s Digital Social Care Advisory Group, my leadership role in Digital Social Care and work with the Better Security Better Care programme.  It was good to touch on how we can learn from innovations taking place in other parts of the world in robotics and sensor-based technology for example. There’s a lot for us to do in the UK to embed these technologies that could enable more people to live independently for longer in their own homes as well as have application in care settings. The not-for-profit sector has taken a leadership role here, and a number of our members have been using similar technologies for a few years, but in order to make a real impact on the sector more needs to be done on a larger scale, faster and in partnership with the people who are receiving care and support.  

AI is a topic I have been watching closely so it was good to discuss where I believe the sector is at with this technology and where we could go with it. Most important is to establish what we want AI to do for us and understand how regulators might be planning to implement it in regulation methods. Where AI might be used for example to develop new care plans, careful consideration will be needed on how a regulator, also using AI, might analyse and assess elements such as quality and staffing. A word of warning on this though; with different schools of thought in play around the potential damage AI could cause, we need to move quickly to harness the good it can bring to our sector. 

A few thoughts around workforce to end on. I co chair the national Workforce Advisory Group, and as an organisation we have been heavily involved in workforce agendas including International Recruitment, supporting refugees and asylum seekers to work in care, developing digital leaders and enabling effective workforce benchmarking. One area that we think is particularly important is linked to the recent rapid expansion of frameworks and resources to support delegated health care tasks to social care workers, but where those same workers are not being paid fairly in recognition of the senior skills they are learning and practicing. Finally, the challenge of workforce recruitment and retention desperately need attention. With vacancy levels of 152,000 in a workforce of 1.6m, we are still in a very urgent situation which requires additional funding to allow providers to pay their staff fairly. We know as a country that we are not alone here and I am particularly proud that NCF is involved in bringing together an International Workforce Summit in Glasgow this September. Social care is a global issue and matters to us all, and opportunities like the summit and this podcast enable us to learn from each other.  

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